The unplanned "vacation" I’ve not particularly enjoyed since August’s end concludes tomorrow, as I commence working my social media marketing wizardry… well, at the least doing social media marketing and traditional marketing on behalf of my new employer. It’s a position to which I look forward with great relish, as it is right in my wheelhouse. A good amount of work to be sure, but it definitely beats the alternative I’ve endured the past twelve or so weeks.
The down time has not been entirely without merit, but all in all the word down is an accurate descriptor. While the off time was welcome, the cause of same was anything but. This, coupled with a not inconsiderable amount of anxiety over such minor elements as finances and the unwelcome challenge of job hunting, led to more than a few moments spent steeped in angst. Nevertheless I pressed on, dredging up whatever resources I could muster and despite the occasional angry blast in God’s direction leaning on Him to drag my sorry self through this latest mess. He did.
I harbor no ill will toward my previous employer. Some valuable experience was gained, and they did provide employment for over a year. This duly noted, it also warrants mention that when you hire someone to do a particular job, you’re best advised to permit him or her doing that for which he or she has been hired. Also, each and every one of us is who we are, not who we believe ourself to be. Finally, despite all the blithering blather one hears these days about new ways of selling stuff, when it comes to proper marketing and the like you do not get to rewrite the rulebook for The Way Things Are Done. ‘Nuff said.
I’m hoping the new gig will rekindle the outside of work creative juices that have lain dormant lo these many months. Blogging has been extremely difficult; this modest waystation on the information superhighway littered with unfinished, unpublished posts as ideas petered out well before completion. A situation that hopefully, prayerfully will now be rectified. While my taste for discussing the political word has steadily diminished, it is still there, and besides there is so much more than politics warranting conversation. I am slowly reclaiming the notion of my having something to say. Whether it warrants reading remains to be seen. That, gentle readers, is of course your decision.
And so it begins. And ends. And begins.
P.S. I wanted to play “End of the Beginning” by the Rembrandts here, but I couldn’t find a video for it. So…
Usually, when the word crickets is mentioned one thinks of either live food for a pet lizard, a cartoon character, Buddy Holly’s backing band…
… the chirping heard on a warm summer eve or the absence of acknowledgement when someone declines responding to a challenge. The divine, not so much outside of the usual “all God’s creatures” etc etc. However, as Elizabeth Scalia has kindly brought to light, there is a bit more of God in crickets than previously suspected.
An enterprising scientist had the idea of recording crickets as they chirp, then slowing down the recording in proportion to what a cricket’s natural life span, assuming they don’t become some other animal’s lunch, would be if they had the same life expectancy as humans. The result… well, listen for yourself (the recording combines real time with the slowed down version):
Quite the choir, what say?
Now, this isn’t the first time crickets have been recorded singing…
Which leads in a roundabout, chasing down rabbit holes way to the actual topic of this magnetic ink scribble.
Before he became best known as the ofttimes host of The Wonderful World of Disney, Jiminy Cricket paid his dues by trying to keep Pinocchio on the straight and narrow. Not an easy task, given how much wood he had in-between the ears and how he’d fall for pretty much any line anyone would toss his way. Rather like the average MSNBC viewer in that regard. But I digress.
Being a hopped-up marionette’s conscience was, as Jiminy quickly learned, anything but an easy gig. In fact, one could say it was a whale of a job (*rimshot*). But Jiminy persevered, in the end seeing his efforts rewarded with Pinocchio becoming Gepetto’s answered prayer, that being a son coming into his life.
Having a conscience, particularly one guided by the Spirit, is a good thing. It tells us that yes, the ends never justify the means. It instructs us that honesty, even it is its only reward, is a reward always worth the effort to obtain. It lets us know that popularity, success and acclaim, even among our peers, are false gods whenever they either become our main objective or are obtained through deception and duplicity. In short, a conscience is a terrible liability in politics. And political punditry, sad to say. If there is truth in that we are known by the company we keep, proclaiming oneself as conservatism’s flag bearer while simultaneously signing professional allegiance to a libertarian Mormon evangelist is incongruous times ten.
Being conscious of Christ is not necessarily mandated to have a conscience, but it helps. In the muddy mist of current events, with frenzied accusations abounding where each side has its battle plans and detailed counterplots, a very good thing indeed would be for all involved to search not their hearts, for hearts often lie. Instead, it would be to search their conscience after first recharging it by listening to God as He speaks to us through His Word, His love in action as brought to us by others and hopefully as we also bring to others, and even the celestial cue card of a cricket choir.
In real life, we do not enjoy the good fortune of having a singing Jiminy Cricket serving as our conscience. However, we do have actual crickets serving to prod our consciousness into hearing the music and perhaps, just perhaps, hearing in it a sound reminding us that this world is not all there is to life. Especially when it gives dishonesty favor.
Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California and one of the leading figures in the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, passed away today after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 86.
To try and explain the impact Chuck Smith had on contemporary American evangelical Christianity, a brief personal illustration. Back in the mid-1970s, in my neck of the woods (San Francisco Bay Area) the reverberations of the Jesus Movement were still being felt in youth culture. It was a heady time, teens and twentysomethings filled with intense love for Jesus and equally intense belief that His return to the earth would be soon and very soon. We’d sit on our bench, located perilously close to the jock bench, in our high school quadrangle with our guitars as we sang and strummed away on our little songs about a great big God. There were all the obligatory teenage angst moments, falling in and out of love at breakneck speed while occasionally musing about what we would do once we were set free from our high school protective cocoon. But we trusted Jesus would take care of that, and besides He would be coming back shortly so why get worked up over a future that would never come to pass?
Being San Francisco Bay Area people, naturally we loathed and looked down on all things Southern California in general and Los Angeles in particular. However, we cut Orange County, south of L.A., a lot of slack. No, not because of Disneyland. It was the home of something we greatly envied, although we were careful to label it anything but envy as of course envy was a sin. This was semantics, though. It was envy.
We envied Orange County for being the home of Chuck Smith.
Where we were, Christian concerts were far and few between. There would be the occasional appearance by Barry McGuire at Mario Murillo’s monthly Night of Miracles rally in Oakland, but other than that there was precious little. There was no radio to which we could listen; the local stations were all AM dollar a holler junk. But where Chuck Smith was, there were concerts every Saturday night playing our music. There was a radio station, an FM radio station, playing our music. There was a church where we knew we’d all be welcome no matter our hair length or dress code. There was a place we knew that if we could only get there we would be blessed beyond words by being at the home base of everything we held dear in our unstoppable zeal. But, we couldn’t get there despite whispered conversations about how if we split the gas and had all the boys stay in one hotel room and all the girls in another with no visitations save with the door wide open, maybe we could borrow someone’s parents van and one day make a pilgrimage to Santa Ana so we could experience in person this magical place from whence came the records on the Maranatha! Music label we eagerly devoured.
Time passed, as it does. Jesus had other plans and didn’t come back before the 1980s set in, or any subsequent decade for that matter. Some of us walked away from the faith, disillusioned at the prospect of having to actually live out a normal life with a job and family and everything else that comes with these things. Some of us passed away. But some of us remained, our faith ofttimes battered, bruised and beaten down to the point of near abandonment. Yet we still believed, chuckling over our previous eschatological fixation and learning, as best we could, to be happy with what we had and learning to have faith in Christ alone, not in an image of Him being the ultimate get out of jail card.
This all said, the news of Chuck Smith’s passing is not an occasion for nostalgic musing about when we were young, alive, on fire and had all the answers. It is a moment to note all that he accomplished: the artists for whom he provided a platform; the multitude of Calvary Chapels now dotting the globe. His name does not have the recognition factor of other post-WWII American Christianity leaders such as Billy Graham or any given TV evangelist. But today, wherever there is a folk/rock guitar being played and song being sung, and wherever there is a ministry saying come as you are because Jesus loves you and so do we, Chuck Smith is there. And we are all the better for it.
God bless you, Pastor Chuck, now at home in your Father’s arms.
The truism says one should never discuss politics or religion with strangers. Excellent advice; it eliminates many flashpoints of contention before they have a chance to spark. However, sometimes both must be discussed as they are inexorably woven together. Such is the case with the present healthcare debate. The issue’s spiritual side seldom comes up in discussion. This is unfortunate, as understanding this brings much needed light to the matter.
Mention healthcare and certain images come to mind: doctors, hospitals, medicine, therapy; all working together to delay or at least make easier our transitioning toward the inevitable embrace of humanity’s one hundred percent mortality rate. Correspondingly, few things create more anger at God, however one defines Him including the definition of there being no God, than when we enter the unfortunate fellowship of those who have lost one or more loved ones to the grave. It is natural to curse at the vision of a disembodied and apparently disinterested God who exists in some undefined form as a rather uncaring being, and it is a small step from this to conclude there is nothing and no one out there hearing prayers, let alone answering them. It is another to consider Jesus at Golgotha, stripped, beaten, bloodied and dying an agonizing death by hanging on a cross. We often hear about “sharing in His suffering” and wonder, in the midst of our own suffering, what that is all about. It is no less accurate to remember that Jesus shares in our suffering. He was and is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.
We don’t need platitudes when the heartache comes and bitter goodbyes are said. We don’t need pie in the sky by and by when you die lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky. We need someone who is going to be there no matter what. We need someone who will be there when life drops its hammer blows on us. We need someone who will be there when we are burying a loved one. We need someone who will be there when we don’t know where the next meal is coming from or how we are going to pay the bills. We need someone who will be there when door after door is getting slammed in our faces. We need someone who will be there when we are tired, discouraged, beaten-down and broken. We need someone to love us who will not go away; someone who will assure us that it will work out and not be lying when they say so.
Enter Jesus. Not the Jesus of sterilized paintings; not the Jesus of half-heard and even less accurate truths, legends and myths. No, this is the Jesus that stands beside those with a broken heart; with the crushed spirit. This is the Jesus that knows what they are going through, because He went through it Himself on this earth. This is the Jesus who knows what it is like to bury a parent, who knows what it is like to be forced to live on the fickle charity of others and be looked down upon for it. This is the Jesus who was called every name in the book for hanging out with the wrong crowd. This is the Jesus who lives, not in some vague theoretical form, but lives today and communicates with us today through not only the mystical, impossible to accurately define yet quite real and tangible divine intervention when His spirit moves and speaks to us but also when those who are moved by His spirit, no matter how shaky their faith may be, reach out in love to others. This is the Jesus who, when someone says they cannot believe He ever existed let alone exists today, responds with a sad smile and says, “I get that a lot.” This is the Jesus who, when His followers get the same line, tells them to love the people anyway. It’s how He rolls.
If faith means anything; if the call of Jesus to those who believe in Him to do as He instructed them to do means anything, it will permeate all aspects of life including thoughts on politics and political action. Narrowing this down to healthcare, It will make clear that neither the cynical snark of conservatism blaming the unfortunate for their own situation nor bleeding heart, financially irresponsible liberals demanding that the rich take care of the poor by funneling all their funds through the government works. Neither is a reflection of the words and work of Christ. The government is not God, no matter how desperately it plays the role of societal modifier. Lack of compassion for others, no matter how much one protests they give charitably as an individual, is not reflective of Jesus. Proposing and implementing genuine action is. Nothing else is. Nothing.
Our present healthcare system is greatly flawed, yet it need not be discarded in favor of socialized medicine which is Obamacare’s ultimate goal. There are simple, practical fixes available right now if both sides would lay down their rhetoric and embrace solutions fueled by federalism’s light, federalism being the straightforward premise that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and must be correspondingly obeyed.
The government should work with existing health insurance providers as a reinsurer covering costs for catastrophic and/or long term care that is beyond the insurance providers means. Illusions, delusions and outright fantasies about insurance providers sitting on unlimited wealth they could use to pay for all such situations are, quite simply, totally inaccurate. They could no more cover all such situations than property and casualty insurers could cover all property owners in the event of a cataclysmic natural event, such as the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated parts of Japan a few years back. Such situations require federal assistance. Yes, this means tax dollars being spent on healthcare. I’m thinking we are individually and collectively worth it. Tied into this reinsurance would be a mandate that no health insurance provider may cancel a policy, or turn away a potential policyholder, and still be eligible for reinsurance. The only exception to this would be if a physician, supported by a review board consisting entirely of fellow physicians, determines than an individual’s behavior is the root cause of their medical problems, at which time the physicians alone may determine if the individual is eligible for coverage.
Even as the government should work with existing health insurance providers to cover costs at the high end, so to speak, of payouts it should also work with them at the lower end. How? By providing financial assistance for the sole purpose of enabling insurance companies to offer affordable coverage to individuals who fall below a certain income level. Now, I can hear the grumbling about welfare, etc. Again, I’m thinking we are individually and collectively worth it. Also, there should be a carrot or the stick approach, that being if someone at any income level deliberately refuses to buy healthcare insurance they will bear one hundred percent of any and all costs they incur should they require medical attention. Try to weasel out of the bill? Hello, community service or jail time. I have no trouble with the government playing hardball when people try to soak the system, be it public or private.
Physicians alone should make all health care choices, not health insurance companies and certainly not the government. A network of local overview boards, members consisting entirely of either active or retired physicians, should be available for appeal should a patient believe their primary care physician is not properly tending to their needs by not providing a particular service.
An investigative committee, made up of current and retired physicians, health insurance professionals and medical supply professionals plus pharmaceutical professionals should be commissioned to investigate the entire world, head to toe (no pun intended) of healthcare. This committee will make recommendations to the industry on how it can best reduce the cost of healthcare without compromising existing care or thwarting potential future care possibilities.
None of these ideas require two thousand plus page bills, increased government bureaucracy or further infringement on individual rights and liberties. There are simple, common sense solutions. They treat others the way we ourselves wish to be treated, not with contempt or tyranny but with straightforward, practical compassion and assistance where needed. We all need help. We all go through dark valleys. We could all use a hand. Let’s offer one to one another.
Rather like the Man laying a nail-scarred hand on our shoulder as He says, “Yes, I do know what you’re going through. Let Me help.”
Philip Yancey, in his book Where is God When It Hurts?, details his interaction with the late Dr. Paul Brand. Dr. Brand revolutionized both the understanding and treatment of leprosy with his discovery that the identifiers most commonly thought of whenever leprosy is mentioned – missing digits and limbs, skin wounds, etc – were in fact not symptoms of leprosy itself. Rather, they were side products of the disease’s actual symptom: preventing the human body from sensing pain. Without the warning pain often provides, lepers would severely injure themselves in any number of ways, all the while completely unaware of the self-inflicted damage being wreaked.
We see a similar sad phenomenon taking place in the conservative new media realm, one in which there is continuous trotting out of the same tired faces and voices while proclaiming this time we will see different results. Those proclamations are most often heard at any one of a number of gatherings dotting the calendar and map – CPAC, BlogCon, RightOnline and so on – which serve as a great excuse to get the gang together for the fifteenth time in the past twelve months, soak up some suds, perform drunken karaoke, tell each other how great they are and then tell every one in the echo chamber not cool enough to hang out with them during the most recent event how they are changing the culture, baby!!! In fact, the only culture being changed is brewers yeast due to depletion of stock. We also see people turning themselves into cyberlepers by inflicting damage upon themselves that when shown to them is either denied or ignored. A recent example is Kristina Ribali, director of new media at FreedomWorks, and her Twitter comment about Mark Levin that set off quite the little tempest in a teapot earlier this week.
A bit of a preface is in order. I am not a Will Ferrell fan. I don’t find him to be all that funny. Therefore, I have seen a grand total of one of his films, namely Talladega Nights, and that strictly because as a NASCAR fan I felt almost obligated to do so. It had a few laughs, but mostly was a waste of my time. I say all that to note that chances are good to excellent any quote from, or reference to, a Will Ferrell film will most likely escape my attention as far as its origin is concerned.
Now, for reasons unbeknownst to all Leon Wolf, a quite minor league conservative pundit, decided the other day to go on a Twitter tear about how much he disliked Mark Levin’s style because it was too abrasive and confrontational for his taste. Why can’t he be more entertaining like Rush Limbaugh, came the cry.
Queen of Liberty and Jen Kuznicki have thoroughly covered the subsequent kerfuffle, so there’s no need to rehash all the details. A thumbnail sketch is that Ribali RTd Wolf, adding her two cents that Levin is an “angry elf.” This apparently is a quote from the Will Farrell movie Elf, which as noted earlier is one I’ve never seen and have no plans to watch. Levin caught wind of the comment, remarked about it on his show as well as on social media, and it was on. Much ranting and occasional raving (minus the Ecstasy) on both sides, with Ribali playing the “you can’t say that to me – I’m just a girl” card to the max. How refreshing to know that in an era of demanded equality between the sexes, when the heat is on some women reserve the right to revert back to pearl clutching days. But I digress.
It is well worth noting that Levin’s resume is quite lengthy. He graduated from college with honors at age nineteen. He worked several different jobs in the Reagan White House. He is president of Landmark Legal Foundation, which has routinely and successfully battled against government overreach and illegal union activism. He has authored wildly successful books, including Liberty and Tyranny, that have clearly and thoroughly defined the sharp difference between conservative and liberal political philosophy. His weekday radio show is easily in the top ten most popular nationwide, with listenership of seven and a half million people each day. He’s also one of the biggest bags of mush when it comes to pets you could ever hope to find. Of course none of this puts him above criticism. However, it does make clear that in the conservative deeds not words department Levin is a Big Deal. And in conservative media a Very Big Deal.
On the air, Levin can be deliberately abrasive. He does not suffer fools lightly, nor does he have the classic radio voice. This is off-putting to some, as Wolf and Ribali have made plain. However, there are times when strident truth cannot be delivered in a format of lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky. Levin is an unvarnished truth-teller. Don’t like it? Go cry to each other about it at your next get-together. You should have time before karaoke.
There is a regrettably common malaise within members of CNM. The affected ones have made a cottage industry out of not caring about matters that should be of great concern. This is particularly true for those who, as the prophet Isaiah noted God as saying, “come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” Harsh and judgmental, you say? Consider the evidence.
If it’s not talking politics with each other as guests on each other’s show, or retweeting each other, or linking to each other’s blog posts, all of this part of an incestuous mutual admiration society where everyone promotes each other, it doesn’t happen. They use Jesus as their organ grinder monkey, an attention-drawing gimmick trotted out when they sense it will play well to the current crowd and immediately stuffed into the closet when they fear appearing too religious might hurt their social standing. They don’t care about Him. Oh, they will plaster Jesus all over their Twitter bio. But point people toward Him in word and deed when they’re doing their social media dance? Only when convenient to whatever career goal they’re shooting for this week. Culture change via changing hearts and lives by introducing people to Christ? Being a witness for Him by actively caring for and about others without regard to whether it will get you in better with the beautiful (at least so they tell us) people? Sorry, no time online for that. Instead, it’s regurgitate what those with genuine insight such as a Mark Levin who put in the work researching and reading, not merely reciting the works of others or worse yet reacting without truly reading anything, have already said as if this somehow makes one a pundit. No, it makes one an unfunny pun.
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
He gets it. CNM doesn’t.
When will the realization come that doing nothing but promoting and tongue-bathing each other has accomplished nothing, is accomplishing nothing and will forever accomplish nothing? The talk is omnipresent about needing to change the culture. True. But when that which effects genuine change is made available, it is shunned. Why? For those who say they believe in Jesus, if He is Who He says He is, when does He become Lord as well as Savior? Is the world so hated that telling it the truth is dismissed due to unworthiness? Is there such a preoccupation with telling one another “yes, it is so” that no time can be found to proclaim what matters outside an ivory tower incorrectly labeled as sanctuary?
There is a childish preoccupation with behaving as children weakening conservatism today. It manifests itself in vainglorious self-promotion and nursing of hurt feelings when someone is not revered as they believe ought to be the case. It is shadowboxing and shadowplay; empty gestures without substance heralded by the crowd as individually each seeks to climb another rung by praising one another. Meanwhile, not only is the conservative message not being heard by those in desperate need of hearing it, the message of Christ’s love and saving grace isn’t so much as being whispered to those in desperate need of hearing it. It is a sad affair.
For those of you familiar with my Cephas Hour show, remain calm; I haven’t switched sides. That made clear, I do listen to music outside the realm of what is considered, shall we say, acceptable in sanctified society. However one wishes to define such.
Should your knowledge of Black Sabbath be restricted to occasionally hearing “Paranoid” and/or “Iron Man” on classic rock radio, or perhaps be even more limited to a name occasionally connected with Ozzy Osbourne whom you have at least heard of if not heard, a brief history lesson. Black Sabbath may not have single-handily invented heavy metal, but given the powerful and lasting impact it has had on the genre it might as well have. Since its recorded debut in 1970, the band’s mix of thundering slow doom and soundtrack for your nightmares has thrilled countless fans. It has also spawned tens of thousands of imitators, who in the past twenty-five years or so have taken a more caffeinated version of Black Sabbath’s fundamental style, that being tunes built upon a foundation of dark liquid, heavily distorted guitar riffs shifting from one to another and occasionally modifying the tempo along with them all inside the same song, and from this creating a nice little career for themselves (hello, Metallica). And yes, horrifying darn near everyone else. The music industry, particularly the critics, have never much cared for the band, while those who choose to dash after the devil in lieu of seeking the Savior have labeled Black Sabbath as Lucifer’s house band. Nevertheless it has persevered, sometimes with most of if not all the original members (the aforementioned Mr. Osbourne on vocal, Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass and Bill Ward on drums) on board although all save Iommi have spent time away from Black Sabbath over the decades.
Osbourne originally left the band in 1978, this at a time when assorted chemicals were running rampant throughout the quartet’s individual and collective bloodstream, and went on to a quite successful solo career. At the time the band was decidedly on the downside of their career, which had been built on the strength of their first four albums only to be swiftly diminished by subsequent recordings. The band briefly revived itself when Ronnie James Dio came on as vocalist and recorded Heaven and Hell in 1980, which to this remains one of the absolute best metal albums I’ve ever heard. However, Dio left after a couple of years and Black Sabbath faded from public attention. Nevertheless the band shuffled on, running through numerous members over ensuing years as Iommi did his best to keep the flag waving.
Time (not to mention time spent in rehab) heals all wounds, and the original four members gradually relearned how to be in the same room with each other without having to have a SWAT team on standby. From 1997 forward the band played the occasional concert with everyone present, although for various reasons Ward was out more than in. This pattern continued as Black Sabbath announced in 2011 it was prepping to record its first record of new music with the original lineup since 1978. This was derailed when in 2012 Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and Ward bailed over contractual issues. However, Iommi recovered, he along with Osbourne and Butler recruited Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk to fill Ward’s slot in the recording studio, and the end result (as least as far as a new album is concerned) was released earlier this week. Ladies and gentlemen, meet 13.
Given how we’re looking at a band that is generally considered to have been on the downside of its career since the mid ’70s, it would be logical to assume that any attempt to create new music would result in a lament on how Black Sabbath was further disgracing its legacy by churning out a third-rate imitation of itself in hopes of cashing in on the aforementioned legacy. Logical; however, highly inaccurate. 13 is a very good album, easily the best Black Sabbath record with Osbourne on board since, well, Paranoid some forty-two years ago (ouch). Which remains the band’s best effort.
There are certain combinations in music, more specifically between musicians, that just plain work. One of them is Ozzy Osbourne’s voice, such as it is, and Tony Iommi’s guitar. Although in his solo career Osbourne has worked with any number of flash-fingered wunderkinds from the late Randy Rhodes on forward, and Iommi has backed more than a few singers during the same time period, together they create a synergy that far outstrips the individual parts and their other collaborations with the possible exception of Iommi and Ronnie James Dio, although in that case it was much more Dio than Iommi who was the show’s center. Even when you know exactly what’s coming next — and let’s be honest, both had shown everything they have a long, long time ago — it makes for an exhilarating experience for any heavy blues/metal/hard rock/whatever you want to call it fan. Iommi’s riffs, ably backed by Butler’s fundamentally sound yet melodic bass playing, haven’t been this sharp in many a moon, and Osbourne dusts off his chops to superb effect. It is a none-too subtle reminder to the hordes of bands who have followed in their wake that Black Sabbath is their daddy in more ways than one.
But what of the lyrics, one might wonder. If you’re looking to a project involving Ozzy Osbourne for insightful commentary on the human condition or much of anything else, you’re best advised to rethink your life more than a bit. That duly noted, lyrically it’s… a Black Sabbath record; brooding musings for late at night when ones thought process starts becoming fragmented. Although the line ‘I don’t believe that God is dead’ from “Is God Dead?” is at least moderately reassuring.
In the final analysis, what we have is a band that has spent far more time apart than together actually getting together in the late autumn of their lives to once more do what what they did first. And, as a capper, do it better than most everyone else. 13 would make for terrible background music at a party, but for those of us who still savor listening to music packing a moody punch it is a terrific treat.
Expanding on a thought from Twitter yesterday evening:
I speak to those of a conservative bent.
Are we done with the “ooooh a woman making a bicep and/or shooting a gun is so edgy & HAWT!” thing yet? It’s getting old.
Maybe I’m off the mark, but to me posting dozens of selfies and/or photos of yourself taken by others isn’t all that sexy no matter your physical appearance.
Most of the women I know online are too busy working at the job site – office, store, what have you – and/or taking care of their family and/or other people to pose for pictures all day.
If your physical appearance falls within the parameters of what is commonly considered attractive, cute, beautiful, sexy, or any combination thereof, congratulations. I’m happy for you. Wear it well and be thankful for what you’ve been given.
That said, the rest of us are booked solid with this “life” thing.
In light of this, we do hope you’ll forgive us should our reaction to your latest edition of “look at MEEEEE!” be one of preoccupation-based indifference.
Go look in the mirror. It’s always free to tell you how good looking you are.
(PRLEAP.COM) Cephas Hour (cephashour.com), the only weekly radio show, airing on a non-religious station, devoted to Christian rock and pop from the 1980s with occasional nods to the 1970s and 1990s, will feature an unique playlist this Sunday June 2, 2013. The show will focus on two bands and two solo artists who are creating music without music industry assistance, instead depending solely on fan interaction and support. Cephas Hour is heard exclusively on BlackLight Radio every Sunday at 11 AM Eastern with a repeat broadcast at 11 PM Eastern.
While all of the featured artists – solo artists Andy Pratt and Mark Scudder along with bands Daniel Amos and the Call – except Scudder have enjoyed label support in the past, they are presently functioning on their own. As Wilson points out, this has both advantages and disadvantages. “While on one hand artists who are going it alone have complete control over their music, they also face the harsh reality of paying the bills. You’re not going to have a publicity team. You’re ofttimes not going to have an agent or manager running the show. It’s all on you, and it’s all out of your wallet. And, despite the popular myth, all musicians aren’t rich. It’s a difficult challenge.”
Scudder adds, “Self-producing in the age of social media requires that you are a content creator during the process as well as creating the final product you intended to create. This can increase the work tenfold or more, on top of already being the songwriter, the sole performer, the producer, and the engineer.” He goes on to note, “Technology has dramatically lowered the cost of studio-quality production for independent artists with home studios. Many seem to believe it has eliminated cost. This belief, along with the belief that all media should be free, severely limits what a self-producer can do.”
The four artists featured, while all Christian or Christians, vary widely in many aspects. Pratt, who first came to notice in 1972 with the underground and far before its time classic “Avenging Annie,” works in an eclectic, sophisticated rock/pop vein. Daniel Amos is a legend in Christian music, having started out as a soft country-folk-rock ensemble which gradually transformed into an alt rock pioneering force. The Call’s driving rock anthem style has drawn praise from Bono of U2 and Peter Gabriel among others, while Scudder’s mix of solid, melodic acoustic rock and modern prog rock showcases his thinking persons lyrical bent. (NOTE: Links for each artists in preceding paragraph go directly to sites where they can be assisted.)
“One of the thoughts behind Cephas Hour has always been encouraging its audience to support the artists played on the show,” Wilson comments. “What is happening with this particular show is taking that up a notch. There are links throughout cephashour.com where you can learn more about the four featured artists, buy their music and/or support their fundraising campaign so they can afford to continue making music. These people have given us so much over the years. It’s time we started directly giving back.” He continues, “There is so much talk today about the need to ‘change the culture’ by giving artists with a different world view the opportunity to be heard. Well, here are the artists. Is our talk just talk? Or are we willing to literally put our money where our mouth is?”
“It has become trendy to complain that our voices need to be part of culture, especially pop culture. But, the pundits are so self-indulgent that they don’t realize we’re out here,” Scudder observes. “Many of them, when you try to tell them we’re out here and ready to work for culture change, respond as if we have insulted their efforts and refuse to work with us. It’s all very childish.”
Wilson follows, “We keep hearing ‘no more litmus tests; we’re all in this culture change movement together.’ Really? The moment you say Jesus, people who love dropping His name whenever convenient are suddenly nowhere to be found. If that’s not a litmus test, what is? Also, when considering the four artists featured on the show this Sunday it bears mentioning it is a very diverse group. Different music, different message emphasis, different politics, everything. Does it matter? Not as far as supporting the artists is concerned. It is the same Jesus Christ we are supposed to be serving. Here is an opportunity for people to help people serving Him, in the course of doing so also serving Him. That’s culture change. Let’s embrace it and make it happen.”
About Cephas Hour
Cephas Hour is the only weekly radio show, on a non-religious station, that plays classic Christian alternative rock and pop primarily from the 1980s with some material from the 1970s and 1990s. Hosted by veteran Christian music journalist Jerry Wilson, Cephas Hour features artists that both created and defined a genre presently occupied by bands such as Switchfoot and Relient K. The show airs every Sunday at 11 AM Eastern with a repeat broadcast at 11 PM Eastern exclusively on BlackLight Radio. For more information, visit cephashour.com.
About BlackLight Radio
BlackLight Radio is a streaming music station based in Oklahoma. On the air since 2005, BlackLight features an all-80s music format that delights new fans of the decade as well as those who grew up with the music. BlackLight also hosts Cephas Hour at 11 AM Eastern and 11 PM Eastern time every Sunday. For more information visit blacklightradio.com.
A post from last August, written shortly after my oldest brother, a decorated Vietnam veteran, passed away.
My sister is presently going through my parent’s house in Indiana prepping it for sale. In the course of doing so, she’s discovered some letters our oldest brother Mike, a decorated Vietnam veteran who passed away a couple of weeks ago, sent our parents while he was stationed in Vietnam. She’s reprinted them at a liberal website (yes, she’s one of those, but I love her anyway) which I’d rather not give traffic to, so I’m reprinting them here. Please take a moment to read them. Thank you.
9 November 1966
Dear Mom & Dad & Family,
Another quick note. Arrived at Tay Minh safe & sound. Drove 50 miles to get here. A lot of fun, though. The towns were hectic – dodging kids, dogs, bicycles, water buffalo.
Got two artillery units around us. We’ve been building a bunker, & every body is digging sandbags, including the chaplain.
We can see the famous “Black Virgin” mountain. That’s where they’re doing a lot of the fighting.
Saturday or Friday we’re moving to Sai Dai (I guess that’s how you spell it.) They’ve seen a lot of action. Our Colonel is really itching for his star.
Got the books, Dad. No chance to read them, though. Been on the move.
Will write more later. Writing by candlelight as is. Still safe, so don’t worry.
God love you.
The next letter was dated three days later.
12 November 1966
What I am going to say will be most unpleasant, but we just spent a hell of a night up here at Tai Ninh. Here’s what happened.
At 9:00, the Viet Cong hit our position with heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, and rifle grenade fire. We hit the bunker and stayed until 10:15 when the attack was over. A flare ship started illuminating the sky, but one was a dud. It hit the aviation section tent, but it hit a man who had been in Vietnam less than a month. The force practically scalped him, and the flare ignited. The man was killed instantly. I ran over there, just after the attack with a jug of water to help put out the fire caused by the flare. Quite a bit of damage was done to the inside of the tent. Men with fire extinguishers and me with my water jug (which had just been filled) tried to put out the flare (which is next to impossible.) The flare started exploding, so we hit the ground. After that, somebody said that a man was hurt badly. I went over to see if he needed some water, but he was dead when I got there. The sight was unnerving.
We finally hit the sack after midnight. Then at two o’clock in the morning, they really mortared us. We lost twelve men, WIA, two seriously (Both should live.) A mortar round landed three feet from our communications tent and RTT van. The attack lasted until three-thirty. After the attack, I was detailed to wash the blood from the inside of the RTT van. I won’t go into any gory details of either event.
I came out without a scratch. I did not panic nor was there any extreme fear on my part. One never knows how he will react to an emergency.
Our battery suffered 25% casualties during the attack. I am all right, and they moved heavy artillery in this morning, 155mm SP howitzers, to protect against another attack tonight. We should get some sleep tonight. I hope that I never have to write another letter like this again. The danger has passed, so be thankful that I pulled through OK, and go to Aunt Beth & Hazel’s house for Thanksgiving. You have a lot to be thankful for.
My sister added: “Mike was a Chaplain’s Assistant in Vietnam. Later in the war he won the Bronze Star. His unit came under attack and he ran out and picked up two wounded comrades and threw them over his shoulder and carried them to safety. Later that evening when he was taking a shower he realized that he had been hit in the leg. He refused the Purple Heart but was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. Mike never talked about Vietnam. Much of it he suppressed in his mind. The only thing he ever said was that he would like to go back and see Vietnam because he loved the people. Rest in peace Mike. I will miss you big brother.”
(PRLEAP.COM) Cephas Hour (http://cephashour.com/), the only weekly radio show devoted to Christian rock and pop from the 1980s with occasional nods to the 1970s and 1990s as well airing on a non-religious station, will celebrate its first anniversary this Sunday May 26, 2013 with a “best of the best” playlist featuring bands and artists such as Crumbächer, the 77s, Daniel Amos, Altar Boys, Steve Taylor and more. The show is heard exclusively on BlackLight Radio.
Cephas Hour airs every Sunday on BlackLight Radio at 11 AM Eastern with a repeat broadcast at 11 PM Eastern. BlackLight Radio has been broadcasting online at http://blacklightradio.com/ since 2005, featuring an all-80s music format since 2000. The station is also available on the TuneIn app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Jerry Wilson, who has hosted Cephas Hour since its inception, brings a unique set of qualifications to his duties. As a music journalist covering the Christian music industry during the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s, Wilson interviewed many of the artists whose music he plays on the show and even introduced more than a few of them when serving as an emcee for shows in the San Francisco Bay Area. More recently Wilson wrote the book First and Forgotten (http://firstandforgotten.com/) chronicling, in their own words, the lives of these same artists both back then and in the present day.
“The show is fulfillment of both a dream and a promise,” Wilson states. “This is the music I wish I could have heard on the radio when it was new. Even more important is that these artists, individually and collectively, created a catalog of work that is brilliant on all fronts — musically, lyrically and spiritually. Cephas Hour is a celebration of this brilliance, bringing it back for both people who remember it from back in the day and new fans discovering this amazing music for the first time. It is my way of, at least in part, repaying the immeasurable debt I and so many others owe these artists for the sacrifices they made delivering to us this incomparable gift.”
Cephas Hour purposely airs solely on BlackLight Radio. Station owner Gene Savage comments, “Cephas Hour is exactly where it needs to be, and I say that because a local Christian ‘oldies’ program can have a hard time either getting airtime on a local station and/or getting a big enough audience to justify time and expense. By streaming over the Internet, fans old and new of classic Christian contemporary can gather and form a new community not bound by geographic lines, but instead by musical tastes. Additionally, Cephas Hour is in the right place at the right time because it is on a mass-appeal, ‘secular’ formatted station. This provides both a larger potential audience and an audience more likely to need to hear the message behind the music. While more and more Christians are discovering the show, this is not ‘preaching to the choir.’ The lost getting up (or still up) on a Sunday morning, or tuning in before heading to bed Sunday evening, hear the message of a loving, saving God without being beaten to death with church-speak. Cephas Hour on BlackLight Radio gets the gospel, through these thirty-plus year old recordings, into corners of the world no contemporary Christian station has ever dreamed of reaching. It truly is taking the good news of Jesus Christ around the world, and BlackLight Radio could not be happier about being the vessel for that kind of ministry.”
Wilson adds, “There is a great deal of talk today, especially in politically conservative circles, about an urgent need to ‘change the culture’ by infusing what are generally considered conservative values into popular culture – music, television, film and the like. The music on Cephas Hour puts this talk into action, usually not on a direct political level but always on one that is much deeper. Culture change begins when hearts and minds change. Hearts and minds most often change when information is provided in a palatable format. Great music with honest, open lyrics is such a format. This is where Cephas Hour comes into the picture. If we are honest about what we believe, we will support others proclaiming these beliefs. The show itself is not that important. It is the artists, and their work, that deserve full support from those saying they want to change things. The Prince of Peace trumps politics every time. Every time.”
Mike Stand, of Altar Boys and currently Altar Billies fame, marks the show’s anniversary by stating, “The honeymoon’s over. Congratulations on your one year anniversary. May you have many more years, and many more after that, and after that… who knows? Maybe, some more years as well?”
About Cephas Hour
Cephas Hour is the only weekly radio show playing classic Christian alternative rock and pop primarily from the 1980s with some material from the 1970s and 1990s. Hosted by veteran Christian music journalist Jerry Wilson, Cephas Hour features artists that both created and defined a genre presently occupied by bands such as Switchfoot and Relient K. For more information, visit http://cephashour.com/.
About BlackLight Radio
BlackLight Radio is a streaming music station based in Oklahoma. On the air since 2005, BlackLight features an all-80s music format that delights new fans of the decade as well as those who grew up with the music. BlackLight also hosts Cephas Hour at 11 AM and 11 PM Eastern time every Sunday. For more information visit http://blacklightradio.com/.